We Have the Technology...

You may recall that very recently I attended a fantastic gaming event by the name of Play Blackpool. I wrote about my experiences here, here and here. The experience I want to refer to today though is the first link. And if you can't be arsed to move your mouse pointer back up to the previous sentence (or your finger - I know some of you hipster Dreamcast owners are reading this on iPads, for fuck's sake), you can just click here instead. Sorry - I meant here.

In that post, I mentioned in passing that I bought a 'new' Dreamcast console because it was white and not yellow. I won't go into that whole hideous saga again, but know this: the new Dreamcast didn't work. I only discovered that when I actually hooked it up to a TV and attempted to play my recently acquired copy of Skies of Arcadia on it. I'd previously 'tested' said system simply by plugging the machine into the mains and turning it on - the orange LED burst to life as one would expect and so I just thought all was fine and dandy. Imagine my complete and utter disgust then, when I finally got around to inserting some AV cables and attempting to play an actual game, and was confronted with a slow-motion, flashing boot screen which was then replaced by a totally white square where either a 'date/time' screen or a system menu should have been. Not impressed, was I. Hmmm... (that was meant to be an impression of Yoda, by the way).

I did a bit of Googling and deduced, after a good hour of trawling through posts from 2009, that my 'new' Dreamcast was pretty much fucked. There was only one thing for it - take the innards out of my yellow system and put them into the white case of the deceased machine. Simple, I thought. But upon opening up both machines and preparing for some surgery, I noticed that there were some discrepancies between the two consoles...

So this is an image of both Dreamcasts side by side. They look fairly similar on first glance, but there are a few differences. Obviously, there are differences in serial numbers and there are a few things printed on various circuit boards, but there was more.

The CD lens units were pretty much the same and popped out as your expect, and the PSU boards were similar too (and both work fine, btw), but the controller boards had different batteries and the newer - broken - machine had a controller board that didn't require a bit of speaker wire around the F1 fuse in order to get the system to recognise joypads!

Speaker wire: mana from Heaven 

Perhaps the biggest difference though was that my original Dreamcast had a totally different fan assembly to the more recent machine - the original machine had a quieter, plastic-encased fan while the newer machine had an aluminium-cased fan with more blades and which was attached to the motherboard shield with an extra bit of metal not present in the old system. Aaprt from that, everything else was identical and I ended up taking the best bits of both consoles and created a sort of bastard machine from the two:

It looks great with the newer white shell, and even though the fan is a little noisier than before, the newer PSU board doesn't reset the console at all when playing a game - something that was quite common with the old system.

What I'm basically saying is that my new Dreamcast is a bit of a Frankencast comprised of bits from two different machines...but it works better than ever and will hopefully allow me to continue playing awesome Dreamcast games for a long time to come.

As for the old parts - they'll be retained as spares and I'll get around to having the old shell modded eventually. If anyone knows of any competent console modders who could do wondrous things with a Dreamcast shell, please let me know in the comments!

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